For the first time since their first playoff game, the Royals face elimination.
Another loss ends the season, just as it did in the one-game AL Wild Card shootout with the Oakland A’s a month ago. The Royals survived that night in improbable fashion, and it will take something special to become the World Series champion.
The Royals, falling to the Giants 5-0 on Sunday, have fallen behind 3-2 in the best-of-seven series and have to win twice in Kauffman Stadium, on Tuesday and Wednesday, to wear the crown.
“We know what it’s like to be down,” first baseman Eric Hosmer said. “We’ll battle back.”
Baseball history over the long haul is against them, although shorter term instances provide hope.
In World Series history, the 43 previous winners of the fifth game to take a 3-2 lead has gone on to capture the series 28 times (65 percent).
It happened last year, when the Red Sox, who fell behind the Cardinals 2-1, swept the final three games to take the World Series in six games.
But over the past three decades, the trend actually has favored the trailing team, which overcame the one-game deficit to win the series.
In 2011, the Cardinals trailed the Rangers 3-2, staged an incredible rally and captured game six behind David Freese’s heroics: a two-run triple that tied the score in the ninth and a home run that won it in the 11th. The Cards then captured game seven.
The Giants led the Angels in the 2002 World Series with the series shifted to Anaheim, and the Angels staged an amazing rally in game six, overcoming a five-run deficit in the seventh inning, before going on to a game seven triumph.
These Giants, who are bidding for a third World Series championship in five years, have already been extended further than in their previous trips. In 2010, they took the series from the Rangers in five games, and two years later they swept the Tigers.
But now the scene shifts to an American League park with the designated hitter. The Royals changed things up for the three games at AT&T Park. Regular DH Billy Butler got only one at-bat, and the Royals started Jarrod Dyson in center field, limiting the time of usual starter Nori Aoki.
Now, it’s back to Kansas City, where the Royals have lost only one game in the postseason.
“We get back home, Billy will be back in the lineup, we’ll play in front of 40,000 of our fans,” third baseman Mike Moustakas said. “Let’s see what happens.”